January/February 1997

Richie Zellon
The Nazca Lines

If you think that Jimi Hendrix set to a cha-cha rhythm is merely a muzak nightmare, you'll think again after checking out Richie Zellon's The Nazca Lines (Songosaurus 724773; 56:24). The totally original walking percussive cha-cha read on Hendrix's "Fire" is but one of the wild surprises Zellon has in store. The guitarist's covers here are meticulously melded with traditional Latin rhythmic forms as tribute-he dissects Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" into an accordion-fortified tango, giving the
familiar melody unusual breathing spaces. Zellon's other Hendrix nod, "Purple Haze," incorporates a percolating rhythm with stinging melody lines on guitar, for a completely different feel from the acid rock standard. His originals are no less ambitious, with
"Merenbop"'s zany and light merengue-bebop combo providing a swinging venue for Zellon and pianist Jose Luis Madueno to
explore, and "Mission Marinera" walking tall on a stately Peruvian marinera dance groove (listen up for threads of the "Mission: Impossible" theme, too). A demonstrated expert on the roots of rhythm, from the Dominican Republic to Argentina, Zellon offers compositions that are as educational as they are seductive and danceable.

Originally published in January/February 1997
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